Minds and Machines 11 (1):113-126 (2001)

Tom Polger
University of Cincinnati
The 1990’s, we’ve been told, were the decade of the brain. But without anyone announcing or declaring, much less deciding that it should be so, the 90’s were also a breakthrough decade for the study of consciousness. (Of course we think the two are related, but that is another matter altogether.) William G. Lycan leads the charge with his 1987 book Consciousness (MIT Press), and he has weighed-in again with Consciousness and Experience (1996, MIT Press). Together these two books put forth Lycan’s formidable view of consciousness, extending the theory of mind that he calls ‘homuncular functionalism.’ Roughly, Lycan’s view is that conscious beings are hierarchically composed intentional systems, whose representational powers are to be understood in terms of their biological function. In this review we will call the view ‘teleological functionalism’ or ‘teleofunctionalism’ – the homuncular part, for which Lycan and Daniel Dennett argued convincingly, is now so widely accepted that it fails to distinguish Lycan’s view from other versions of functionalism. This, by itself, is a testament to the importance of Lycan’s work.
Keywords Brain  Consciousness  Experience  Metaphysics  Science  Lycan, W
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1011276727406
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